"Radio Ranch" is a condensation of the 12 chapter, 1935 Mascot serial, "Phantom Empire," which features Gene Autry in his first screen role as a singing cowboy. The 70-minute feature version was released in 1940. Copious plot permutations were lost in this condensed version, but what it lacks in coherence, it makes up for in fast-paced wackiness.
This version is of higher visual quality than other copies here at the Internet Archive and elsewhere.
January 18, 2020 Subject:
Gene Autry With A Musical Sci-Fi Mix-up
Gene Autry is his usual affable plain-talking, song-singing self in this 69:00 condensation of the 12-part serial "The Phantom Empire." Thus it winds up lacking continuity and becomes half musical, half sci-fi/adventure film. What concerns Autry most throughout the film is being back at Radio Ranch for his 2pm broadcast. Meanwhile, problems come up with the Muranians, who live almost 5 miles underground and have a very advanced civilization as far as scientific accomplishments are concerned. For some reason they come above ground and are seen by Autry - being seen by a surface dweller is a big no-no. So, Dorothy Christy (Queen Tika) calls for Autry's capture and execution. Dorothy Christy had a long career, appearing in 108 movies/TV shows between 1929-53, often playing opposite famous comic stars. Here, her acting is so stiff as to be laughable. Other complications on the surface arise with the arrival of some greedy and crooked scientists after Murania's radium deposits; and the creation of a children's group, tin bucket headed and cloaked as a research and rescue team. Problems below develop when it turns out that there is a revolutionary factor underground plotting to overthrow the queen. Mix all this together with Autry's need to be home at 2pm for a broadcast and you get the gist of the film. I haven't watched it yet, but I think the 12-eoisode, 254:00 must be better than this 69:00 version also known as "Radio Ranch". Nevertheless, entertaining, often unintentionally funny and, overall, innovative as a sci-fi/western mix with songs.
February 20, 2018 Subject:
Video quality is the best I've ever seen for this film/serial.
Audio is acceptable.
The movie itself is... amusing and confusing. The serial was a little easier to follow, but even that left me bewildered occasionally.
It's okay, though, because you get Gene Autry singing and trick riding his way through a conflict with robot men from Atlantis (or something) and that's an amusing enough principal that you can effectively shut your brain off and enjoy.